A short drive to the San Pedro Terminal, and we join a line of more than 450 Scouts in uniform, snaking around the building, waiting to board the ferry. We move forward slowly, like refuges, pushing our duffel bags in front of us, pulling our backpacks, and trying to keep touch of lunches, water bottles, hats, and sleeping pads across the terminal and eventually onto the ship. Finally the gang blanks are raised and engines start to vibrate as we ease out into the channel for our one hour passage to Emerald Bay, near Two Harbors on the island of Catalina.
In Northern California, there are only a few places to backpack in the Fall (unless you like snow) and the Monterrey area is one of the best. There are hundreds of trails, many overgrown and unmaintained, and lots of scenic views and interesting history. A huge fire ripped through the Ventana Wilderness Area a couple of years back, but it has just been reopened to backpackers.